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Provisional statistics of retail sales for December 2015 and for the whole year of 2015
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales today (February 2).

     The value of total retail sales in December 2015, provisionally estimated at $43.7 billion, decreased by 8.5% compared with the same month in 2014. The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in November 2015 decreased by 7.8% compared with a year earlier.

     After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales in December 2015 decreased by 6.1% compared with a year earlier. The revised estimate of the volume of total retail sales in November 2015 decreased by 6.0% compared with a year earlier.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of value of sales and comparing December 2015 with December 2014, the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts decreased by 17.0%. This was followed by sales of wearing apparel (-12.1% in value); commodities in department stores (-12.3%); medicines and cosmetics (-7.5%); electrical goods and photographic equipment (-9.3%); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (-1.1%); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (-10.6%); motor vehicles and parts (-2.6%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-8.7%); fuels (-3.6%); furniture and fixtures (-3.3%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (-1.6%); Chinese drugs and herbs (-6.1%); and optical shops (-3.8%).

     On the other hand, the value of sales of commodities in supermarkets increased by 3.6% in December 2015 over a year earlier. This was followed by sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+1.1% in value).

     Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the value of total retail sales decreased by 0.9% in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with the preceding quarter, while the volume of total retail sales increased by 0.4%.

     For 2015 as a whole, the value of total retail sales was $475.2 billion, decreased by 3.7% in value and 0.3% in volume compared with 2014.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of value of sales and comparing the whole year of 2015 with the whole year of 2014, the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts decreased by 15.6%. This was followed by sales of wearing apparel (-7.2% in value); commodities in department stores (-4.1%); medicines and cosmetics (-1.9%); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (-3.4%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-4.1%); fuels (-10.5%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (-2.6%); furniture and fixtures (-1.8%); Chinese drugs and herbs (-5.5%); and optical shops (-3.6%).

     On the other hand, the value of sales of commodities in supermarkets increased by 1.3% in 2015 compared with 2014. This was followed by sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+5.9% in value); electrical goods and photographic equipment (+3.0%); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (+16.3%); and motor vehicles and parts (+1.2%).

     These retail sales statistics measure the sales receipts in respect of goods sold by local retail establishments and are primarily intended for gauging the short-term business performance of the local retail sector. They cover consumer spending on goods but not on services (such as those on housing, catering, medical care and health services, transport and communication, financial services, education and entertainment) which account for about 50% of the overall consumer spending. Moreover, they include spending on goods in Hong Kong by visitors but exclude spending outside Hong Kong by Hong Kong residents. Hence they should not be regarded as indicators for measuring overall consumer spending.

     Users interested in the trend of overall consumer spending should refer to the data series of private consumption expenditure (PCE), which is a major component of the Gross Domestic Product published at quarterly intervals. Compiled from a wide range of data sources, PCE covers consumer spending on both goods (including goods purchased from all channels) and services by Hong Kong residents whether locally or abroad. Please refer to the C&SD publication "Gross Domestic Product (Quarterly)" for more details.

Commentary

     A government spokesman indicated that retail sales stayed weak in December 2015, with most types of retail outlet recording year-on-year declines in sales. Apart from the continued slowdown in inbound tourism, the uncertain economic outlook and asset market corrections may also have dented local consumption sentiment.

     Looking ahead, the near-term outlook for retail sales will still be constrained by the weak performance of inbound tourism. The negative spillovers on consumer sentiment from the consolidation of asset markets in recent periods, as well as from external headwinds including dimmer global economic prospects amid the US interest rate normalisation, also need to be closely watched. The Government will continue to monitor the performance of retail business and its repercussions on the wider economy and the job market.

Further information

     Table 1 presents the revised figures on value index and value of retail sales for all retail outlets and by broad type of retail outlet for November 2015 as well as the provisional figures for December 2015. The provisional figures on the value of retail sales for all retail outlets and by broad type of retail outlet as well as the corresponding year-on-year changes for the whole year of 2015 are also shown.

     Table 2 presents the revised figures on volume index of retail sales for all retail outlets and by broad type of retail outlet for November 2015 as well as the provisional figures for December 2015. The provisional figures on year-on-year changes for the whole year of 2015 are also shown.

     Table 3 shows the movements of the value and volume of total retail sales in terms of the year-on-year rate of change for a month compared with the same month in the preceding year based on the original series, and in terms of the rate of change for a three-month period compared with the preceding three-month period based on the seasonally adjusted series.

     The classification of retail establishments follows the Hong Kong Standard Industrial Classification (HSIC) Version 2.0, which is used in various economic surveys for classifying economic units into different industry classes.

     More detailed statistics are given in the Report on Monthly Survey of Retail Sales. Users can download this publication free of charge at the website of C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp320.jsp?productCode=B1080003).

     Users who have enquiries about the survey results may contact the Distribution Services Statistics Section of C&SD (Tel: 3903 7400; email: [email protected]).

Ends/Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:32

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